Good News, America: We're in a 'Polar Vortex'

It is really cold in more than half the country

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 5, 2014 11:54 AM CST | Updated Jan 5, 2014 7:13 PM CST

(Newser) – Baby, it's so cold outside that the AP is throwing around the term "polar vortex," which is apparently "a counterclockwise-rotating pool of cold, dense air"—and it's got more than half the US wrapped in its icy clutches. It's not going anywhere anytime soon: The frigid temps are looking to hang out into tomorrow and Tuesday. A look around at the coldness:

  • The mercury hit negative 31 in International Falls, Minn., negative 21 in Duluth, Minn., and 9 below in Bismarck, ND. Wind chills of 70 below are still within the real of possibility. Parts of Missouri and Illinois could get up to a foot of snow; the former is "experiencing thunder snow and whiteout conditions," according to a MoDOT spokeswoman.

  • Thousands of flights have been delayed in the Midwest and Northeast, AccuWeather reports. Flight delays at Boston's Logan International Airport could last "days, not hours," said a Jet Blue Airways spokeswoman, the Boston Globe reports.
  • Minnesota has canceled school tomorrow for the entire state. In Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Madison have done likewise.
  • In Green Bay, today's playoff game between the Packers and the 49ers could prove a little chilly for the visiting team: The temperature at kickoff is supposed to be negative 2. The AP notes that doctors are advising fans to drink warm fluids that are not of the alcoholic variety.
  • And of course, this happened at JFK Airport, which has since re-opened.

A pedestrian walks along Massachusetts  Street as snow falls in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. The area is under a winter weather advisory and wind chill warnings.
A pedestrian walks along Massachusetts Street as snow falls in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. The area is under a winter weather advisory and wind chill warnings.   (Orlin Wagner)
Basketball fans cross to the United Center in Chicago on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday calling for moderate to heavy snow that will make for hazardous travel conditions.
Basketball fans cross to the United Center in Chicago on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday calling for moderate to...   (Nam Y. Huh)
Waves crash on the frozen Pere Marquette Park Beach on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 in  Muskegon, Mich. Winds were recorded to be blowing 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph and temperatures in the low 30s. A a deep freeze is expected to arrive Sunday with potential...
Waves crash on the frozen Pere Marquette Park Beach on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 in Muskegon, Mich. Winds were recorded to be blowing 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph and temperatures in the low 30s....   (Madelyn P. Hastings)
Jack Craig checks a carton of eggs as he picks up a few items at the Harvest Supermarket on Eighth Street in Anderson Ind. on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Grocery and hardware stores were busy as people prepared for the winter storm forecast to arrive on Sunday.
Jack Craig checks a carton of eggs as he picks up a few items at the Harvest Supermarket on Eighth Street in Anderson Ind. on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Grocery and hardware stores were busy as people prepared...   (Don Knight)
Motorists make their way west as snow begins to build up on US 24 near Belvue, Kansas, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. The area is under a winter weather advisory and wind chill warning.
Motorists make their way west as snow begins to build up on US 24 near Belvue, Kansas, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. The area is under a winter weather advisory and wind chill warning.   (Orlin Wagner)
Michael Jordan statue is covered by snow outside of United Center in Chicago on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday calling for moderate to heavy snow that will make for hazardous travel conditions.
Michael Jordan statue is covered by snow outside of United Center in Chicago on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday...   (Nam Y. Huh)
People sleep on the floor at a Catholic Charities warming center on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Flint, Mich. A deep freeze is expected to arrive over the Midwest Sunday with potential record-low temperatures, heightening fears of frostbite and hypothermia.
People sleep on the floor at a Catholic Charities warming center on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Flint, Mich. A deep freeze is expected to arrive over the Midwest Sunday with potential record-low temperatures,...   (Michelle Tessier)
A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow as the Gateway Arch appears in the distance Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.
A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow as the Gateway Arch appears in the distance Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A snowplow makes its way on a slushy patch between two terminals after a Delta flight skidded off the runway into snow at Kennedy Airport, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in New York.
A snowplow makes its way on a slushy patch between two terminals after a Delta flight skidded off the runway into snow at Kennedy Airport, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in New York.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
A garden gnome sits up to its chin in snow Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.
A garden gnome sits up to its chin in snow Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A picnic table is surrounded by snow as Green Bay is seen frozen from the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum on the University of Wisconsin Green Bay campus Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.
A picnic table is surrounded by snow as Green Bay is seen frozen from the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum on the University of Wisconsin Green Bay campus Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Lawrence Police work a wreck that occurred  on snow covered streets in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.
Lawrence Police work a wreck that occurred on snow covered streets in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
This NOAA satellite image taken Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 at 1:45am EST shows a warm front with rain over South Florida.
This NOAA satellite image taken Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 at 1:45am EST shows a warm front with rain over South Florida.   (AP Photo/Weather Underground)
Kane VanRaalte shovels snow outside of the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.
Kane VanRaalte shovels snow outside of the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Muskegon Chronicle, Madelyn P. Hastings)
Children enjoy the fresh snow at Foothills Park, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 in Pompton Plains, N.J.
Children enjoy the fresh snow at Foothills Park, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 in Pompton Plains, N.J.   (AP Photo/Northjersey.com, Demitrius Balevski)
Cars are covered with snow after a snowstorm in front of the George Washington Bridge, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 on Riverside Drive in the Manhattan borough of New York.
Cars are covered with snow after a snowstorm in front of the George Washington Bridge, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 on Riverside Drive in the Manhattan borough of New York.   (AP Photo/Northjersey.com, Carmine Galasso)
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